How to Connect a PTZ Camera to a PC

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This article was syndicated from our sister website Church Technology Superstore.

Connecting Your PTZ Camera To Your PC

PTZ cameras normally have an RS485/422 port you use to plug in the control cable (VISCA). To connect these cameras to a computer, you need an RS485/RS232 or RS422/RS232 converter. If you do not have an RS232 port on your computer, use an RS485/USB or RS422/USB converter instead. All cameras you want connected must be connected to your network and discoverable. Check the application to make sure you see the camera you want to hook up. If you don’t see it, type in the camera’s IP address, then click Set or OK.

Once you get the camera set up to your computer properly, you can move onto the next step, which is usually setting up additional cameras in the same fashion that you did the first one.

How To Connect A PTZ Camera To A PC Using USB

After making sure your camera is turned on, connect the USB cord to the computer via a VISCA control cable. Also, go to Device Manager and make sure you are using the right COM port number. In other words, your PTZ camera has to be connected to your PC with a USB to VISCA control cable, and again, make sure the camera is on before getting started. You’ll have to connect the VISCA to USB control cable adapter to the port on your computer labeled Serial/USB com port, in addition to the VISCA “in” jack of the camera.

In Device Manager, check the COM port number (under Serial Device) to make sure you’re using the right one. Once you know you’re using the correct COM port number, open up the controller in the menu to see a list of cameras that you can control. Using the Camera buttons or the COM port window is the best way to switch between one camera and another.

If you’re unsure where the Device Manager is, just go to your Control Panel (from your main Computer folder) and click on Device Manager there. If you expand the Ports section, you’ll be able to view your active COM ports to see if there are any yellow exclamation marks. If there are, this means there’s an issue that you need to fix before you go any further. Keep in mind that when you connect one camera, or several cameras using a daisy-chain configuration, only one COM port number will be needed. This is not the case when you have multiple cameras that are connected to multiple ports. In this case, you’ll need to know what all of your COM port numbers are before proceeding.

How To Connect A PTZ Camera To Your PC Using A SDI or HDMI Capture Card

Find the Video Capture Device option, then click on the correct source (“camera one,” and so on). Under Capture Device, choose either SDI or HDMI, then click OK. That is the simple version, but discussed below are additional details you need to know when you’re using an SDI capture card to connect your PTZ camera to a PC.

First of all, know that some video-conferencing software, for example, Livestream, requires a capture card to work right, as well as a video cable that is compatible with your camera. In most cases, you’ll download the software first, then sign in so that it’s installed and ready to go. Go to Settings and find Video, which will tell you all of your capture sources. The video-conferencing software should automatically detect the video capture devices, including the HDMI or the SDI capture card. Once you select the right channel, you should be able to preview the source to make sure you’re where you should be.

Next, go to the Audio page and choose your speakers and microphone. You must set up both the video and audio pages for the video-conferencing software to work. If you were to lay out the design of this setup, it would look similar to this:

Capture device (for example, Magewell) + the meeting software / camera attached to USB capture device by an HDMI cable / USB capture device attached to the meeting software by a USB 3.0/2.0 cable.

You can also use this setup yet attach the camera straight to the meeting software using an HDMI cable. The video capture card, in this case, would be included in the meeting software so there would be no need for the second step mentioned earlier.

When you’re in the meeting software, go to Settings and click on Video, and you’ll find the capture sources in the Camera’s pull-down list. If you’re using a multi-channel card because you have multiple sources, each channel that’s available will be listed separately. Anything that’s available should be detected automatically for you to preview.

Once both the Audio and Video have been set up properly, you are ready to go back to the meeting software and either join a meeting or start one.

How To Connect A PTZ Camera To Your PC Using NDI

If you choose NDI instead of SDI or HDMI. There may be a few more steps involved after you make this selection, but they are usually self-explanatory. As a general rule, here is what you would have to do:

Many software packages, including Zoom, are already compatible with NDI. When they are, you can simply open the NDI Virtual Input software, go to LAN and select the NDI video stream, then go to Settings/Video/Camera and click on NewTek NDI Video. NDI Virtual Input is compatible with lots of the most popular video-conferencing software packages on the market today, so getting it set up properly is usually both fast and simple.

Many capture cards, including PCIe and Magewell USB capture devices, can support numerous operating systems. They are also compatible with a wide range of source signal types, including source signal types from legacy equipment. Video capture cards are usually very high quality and can handle tasks such as color space conversion, color adjustment, scaling, and many others using the on-board FPGA. In practical terms, this means the cards and devices won’t use any CPU resources yet will still capture reliably and in a cost-effective manner.

Even though connecting a PTZ camera to a PC usually involves more “plug and play” than anything else, it is still good to be prepared for the few extra steps you’ll have to take to get everything up and running properly.

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